Dresden Files
Click here for the English Wikipedia article!

The Code Duello is the real-world set of rules and etiquette regarding duels, and, in The Dresden Files, these were inspired by the considerably older rules on dueling as described in the Unseelie Accords, to the point where both are practically interchangeable. It is first mentioned in Death Masks.


In the Code Duello, the one challenged gets to pick from a list of weapons, while the challenger gets to the pick time and location. Both parties decide upon a neutral emissary from a list to officiate the duel, and said emissary decides what the options are for weapons, in which Magic is almost always included. If a weapon is chosen that the challenger cannot use, the challenger may force the challenged to pick his second choice.[1]

Both the challenger and challenged require seconds prior to[1] and during[2] the duel. The seconds work out the terms of the duel before it takes place.[1] Once at the duel, the seconds are positioned nearby the duelists to prevent interference.[2][3]

The Ortega-Dresden duel[]

In the instance of the duel between Duke Paolo Ortega of the Red Court of Vampires and Harry Dresden of the White Council of Wizards, each of the participants' organizations decide[1] on the Archive as the neutral emissary under the Accords. The Archive then contacts Dresden to inquire about his preferred weapon and how she might contact his second. As Dresden does not have a second at the time, the Archive mandates that Dresden acquire a second by sundown that evening and have them call the number on the card she gives him. Otherwise, Dresden forfeits the duel and obligates the Archive to execute him.[4]


As emissary, the Archive considers the options and she chooses the ancient ways:[4]

  • Will — gauge which is most determined
  • Skill — skill at arms, each with weaponry of individual choosing
  • Energy — wield magic forces against one other
  • Flesh — unarmed combat

In the series[]

Death Masks[]

In Death Masks, Harry Dresden consults his copy of the Unseelie Accords and Bob on what he needs to know about the rules for duels, and decides that he will use Magic as weapon in his duel with Paolo Ortega. However, Bob cautions him that Ortega would have thought it through and will therefore know what he can and can't do, and that Dresden would be better off taking something he can predict.[1] The Archive later visits Harry to discuss the parameters of the duel.[4]

Shiro Yoshimo agrees to be Dresden's second,[5] and everyone involved (Jared Kincaid acting as proxy for the absent Archive) then goes to the meeting at McAnally's Pub to arrange the duel. Ortega's second is Thomas Raith, a substitute for the current White King as a deliberate insult to Ortega and the Red Court.[6]

They agree upon a trial of Will, to be carried out at sundown in Wrigley Field.[7] Once there, the Archive releases a sphere of deadly Mordite, and everyone takes their positions. Each duelist then uses willpower to push the Mordite toward one another, and although Dresden nearly wins, Ortega draws a firearm beneath his flesh mask with the intent to cheat.[2] Before he can do so however, he is shot by a high powered rifle by Martin, resulting in the duel devolving into an all-out brawl. Kincaid and the Archive then intervene and put down the interfering vampires, although Ortega manages to escape.[3]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 Death Masks, ch. 8
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Death Masks, ch. 29
  3. 3.0 3.1 Death Masks, ch. 30
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 Death Masks, ch. 10
  5. Death Masks, ch. 15
  6. Death Masks, ch. 17
  7. Death Masks, ch. 18

External references[]